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Old 01-23-2012, 07:23 PM   #1
lifeofadv OP
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A Dry Run in Just North of San Francisco

Hello there,

I wanted to write a quick summary of a ride that I made yesterday. The idea behind this ride was to test some rain gear with the big picture being preparation for a trip to Alaska that I would like to make this summer. So, this is sort of a ride report/equipment test.

The Trip
Anyone in the San Francisco Bay Area knows that it was pretty wet yesterday so it turned out to be a good day to get wet. I live in Oakland, CA. When I woke-up, I saw that the weather looked like rain so I was happy (being a Southern California native, I dislike rain! ). That said, I had to get past my activation energy which is definitely higher when the weather is gloomy out so I packed up my gear and headed to Cole Coffee for a chocolate croissant and a Peruvian Organic Fair Trade drip coffee. I sat outside having my breakfast and just as I was about to finish my croissant, I felt a few drops rain. Perfect.

I geared up, hopped on the bike (I'm 5'7", 30" inseam and 125 pounds so it is a hop, maybe more of a jump) and took off heading north because the radar showed more activity up in that direction. I crossed the Richmond Bridge in rain and just after Novato, headed west on San Antonio Road to Point Reyes. We've got a major, active earthquake fault running through the region which makes for some interesting terrain and geology. I'm sorry but I didn't get many photos because it was raining and, quite frankly, I was enjoying the ride.

After reaching Point Reyes Station, I headed north on the 1 which hugs Tomales Bay before heading inland a little bit and then zig-zagging its way back to the coast at Bodega Bay. Are you still imagining this? A short while after passing Bodega Bay, I stopped to take a quick photo. Because it was blowing rain, although light, it was a quick snapshot that I took without even taking my helmet off.



The waves were beautiful. If I could surf, I could imagine riding those breaks but since I can't, I left it to my imagination. I didn't see anyone surfing out there so maybe it doesn't make sense to surf in those conditions. Who knows? I digress.

A little further up the road, I stopped in Gualala to fill up with some pizza. You've got to be a little careful when rolling into small towns on a Sunday because many shops can be closed but I found a little mom and pop's store to patronize and was happy about that. The family who was eating at the table next to me wondered what in the world I was doing. I told them that I was preparing for a trip to Alaska and that seemed to substantiate my apparent insanity. They told me to ride safely.

After my quick lunch, I headed a little further up the road to the 128 and headed west through some beautiful redwood forests and later groves of oaks. I really wanted to stop but to be honest, I was afraid to stop in gravel because I could barely reach the ground. I need a little more practice on dry, flat land before attempting something as crazy as stopping on gravel. I took the 128 to the 101 and road it all the way back.

The big bonus was that it practically rained the entire time with some pretty heavy rain in the Cloverdale area. I probably stood on the pegs for a good 10%-15% of the time to try to maximize rain exposure.

The Bike


I just purchased this 2007 BMW R1200GS Adventure for my planned Alaska trip. Obviously, it's a capable machine for this kind of riding and once I got it off the kickstand and got it moving, it was clear to me that it's well-suited for this. I did run into some trouble, however. I noticed that the left side case leaks some water. It wasn't much but it wasn't dry like the others. Perhaps I got the cable stuck so it didn't make a good seal? I didn't look carefully enough.

I would really like to use the topcase to carry my camera gear less my tripod. My current thinking is that I'll fill it up with some foam and cut away sections so that I can get my lenses and such in there. I haven't figured out a good system yet for taking the camera in/out in that situation though a solution would likely be pretty simple. Anyway, wet foam will not be my camera's friend.

Other than the wet side case and my fear of stopping, the bike is wonderful even in rain.

The Pumpkin


Obviously, I'm not much into fashion (or I'm into bad fashion big time) but this is what I had going on this trip.
  1. Shoei X-Twelve with Fog City Pro Shield - The helmet was soaked and I had to deal with some fogging but not nearly as bad without the shield. Unfortunately, I would wind up with water droplets on the inside of the shield which made it difficult to see. I think next time I'll try spraying some Rain-X on there to see if that helps.
  2. Aerostich Roadcrafter - The Roadcrafter always results in wet crotch if it's raining out. Aside from swapping out the zippers for something like what's found on scuba diving drysuits, I don't know if there is a cure. Please enlighten me if you know of anything.
  3. Sidi boots (forgot model but has sympatex and they're old) - My feet get wet win these boots if it rains. They get so wet that I can ring my socks out and have enough nasty water to drink.
  4. Aerostich Emergency Boot Raincovers - These worked surprisingly well! At the end of the day, only the bottom of my feet were damp. There certainly wasn't enough water in the socks to drink and there was no way to squeeze even a drop out. I think these are winners but I don't know how long they'll last. The GSA footpegs are going to kill them and the waterproofing material may not last long but we'll see.
  5. Frogg Toggs rain suit - I still wound up getting wet but not nearly as bad as riding without the rain suit. See image below.
  6. Leatt Club II neck brace - In a way, the neck brace helps keep water from getting in at your neck, I think. I thought that it would be pretty wet but this morning, it was dry.
  7. Duofold Expedition Weight thermal underwear - Most of the day, it was around 44 degrees F and I never had to turn on my Aerostich Kanetsu heated vest even though I did get wet.

The Results
Front Side


Back Side


Clearly, the front side resulted in more water penetration but that makes sense. I can't remember the last time I've seen my back side.

One Last Tidbit
In the first image, you'll see that I have my sleeping bag strapped to the back. It's a Modular Sleep System that is distributed to the military. I bought it because I like the concept: Gore-Tex bivy sack, two sleeping bags, and a compression sack to hold it all. I snapped both sleeping bags inside the bivy which in turn I put in the compression sack and then strapped it on the bike for the ride. I was curious to see if the sleeping bag would get wet. When rolling the sleeping bags up, I started on the open end, i.e. the head and worked my way to the feet trying to minimize the chance that water would penetrate the bivy. Shortly after taking the photos above, I opened up the sleeping bag, took off all my clothes and crawled into the sleeping bag. (I read the posting rules so I know not to include those photos.) It was perfectly dry. There were some beads of water on the bivy sack near the feet but those came right off with a little shake.

So there you have it. All in all, I was happy with the overall performance. I think adding consecutive rainy days will compromise the setup especially if I'm out camping. I'm not a big camper so I will have to see about camping in the rain and seeing if I can at least partially dry this gear overnight in that situation. I suspect that's tricky without burning down the tent with me in it.

Thanks for reading!
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Old 01-24-2012, 01:40 AM   #2
maskmarney
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I look forward to reading your ride report when you head to Alaska, as I one day would also like to do this. I can empathize with your unsteadiness and anxiety at riding at slow speeds, since my KTM 950 Adventure has a 36 or 37" seat height, and I'm 5'11. For that reason, I seldom ride it in the city (preferring, instead, to ride my Kawasaki ZR7), and, like you, fear slow speeds most of all: gas stations seem especially nerve-wracking. Highway 128 is a glorious road, and I need to get back up there and ride it.
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Old 01-24-2012, 08:51 AM   #3
lifeofadv OP
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When you ride these big bikes, it's an adventure every time you go riding. I rode my R1200RT to work today and boy, what a boring ride!

I thought about getting a KTM but when I saw that seat height, I thought that it would basically be impossible for me to ride it. Over at Cole Coffee, every once in a while, I'll see three of those KTM's parked out front. I like the way they look and definitely like the offroad worthiness. Do you take yours offroad? Have you taken the Doc Wong course? After getting my low seat, I'm going to sign-up for that.
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Old 01-25-2012, 12:49 AM   #4
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I haven't yet taken it offroad, but I'll be doing it this spring. I took the Doc Wong course in November, but the Sunday ride was rained out; I'm hoping he'll allow those of us from the November course to tag along in March, when he takes the other class to Hollister. I've put 6,000 street miles on the bike and I'm eager to start doing some offroad exploring.
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Old 01-25-2012, 06:43 AM   #5
lifeofadv OP
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I just sent Doc Wong an email to see if he has space in his March class. If so, I'm in. Hopefully I'll see you on that Sunday!
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Old 01-25-2012, 08:47 AM   #6
the darth peach
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Nice pics of the bike!
I know the pelican case is cheap insurance for waterproofing the traveling camera gear.
There are several riders on here that will have a lot of good recommendations for outfitting a top case for that.
Leaking bags are no fun.
Looking forward to hearing about the big trip…..
Good luck.
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Old 01-25-2012, 10:58 AM   #7
Pantah
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Cocolate Croissant and Peruvian Organic Fair Trade Drip coffee!!!
You're in for an adventure up north...

I enjoyed your road test. I've been all over the continent and the great white north twice. I assure you it will be wet. My trips were 14 days spanning about 7500 miles and half both trips was full of driving rain. I use waterproof textile riding gear. I don't use a rain suit at all. In 2006 I used Acerbis enduro pants and had a wet crotch half the trip. In 2010 I used First Gear pants. Perfectly dry.

A few pointers:
-Waterproof your boots and gloves just before you go. Any boot shop has the brush on silicon sealer. It works well and should last the trip. Boot and glove seans require a couple treatments.

-Take 3 sets of gloves. Your wet weather gloves should probably be waterproof textile ski or mountaineering gloves. I used an old pair of Grandoes the first time, and Black Diamond medium weight climbing gloves the last time. Get them at REI. You want thin palms to avoid cramping.

- You'll need a couple sets of DOT knobby tires if you want to do the haul road or the Dempster. Even the Top-of-The-World gets real muddy. Other dirt roads you should try is the Canol roads in the Yukon, and the Denali Highway south of Fairbanks. TKC 80's only last about 4k miles. You should at least have a spare front tire for the return trip.

- Before you go, clean and lube your electrical accessory connections. Particularly for your heated gear.

- You should have some sort of baggie to cover all your cases to keep out water.

-All your sox and undergarments should be synthetic for fast dry and whicking. My fave shorts are Nike compression shorts for about $25. Saves your butt from the burn.

-Camelbak - The quickest way to stop a cramp is a few pulls on your hydrator. Amazing! Gone in 5 minutes.

Regarding the special treats on the road, the Canadians operate a lot of gas/lodging places and some of them have the most fantastic bakeries. Keep an eye out. My fav is at Johnson's Crossing YT. It's got gas, lodging, RV park and the best bakery up there. . It's also the next to the beginning of the South Canol road to Ross River (135mi dirt).

It's a very different country up there. Not many people... Long vista's with nary a power line in sight.

Have fun.
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Old 01-25-2012, 12:05 PM   #8
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Welcome to ADV Life of ADV!!! Excellent job on your first report, and good luck with your AK trip.



GREAT tips Pantah
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Jax' mediocre photo thread.
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Old 01-25-2012, 04:59 PM   #9
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the darth peach
I'll have a look around to see what people are doing with respect to housing their photo gear. I've got about 20 pounds worth and keeping it dry is pretty high on my priority list. I really do need to increase the activity in my stop-to-smell-the-roses portion of my brain, too, so that I can actually take the camera out. I've found it quite difficult to blend riding and photography and having a ride report in mind may actually be the best way to do this.

Pantah
Thanks for your insight. I've got the Aerostich underneath that obnoxious orange but even though it looks like it's in great shape, it takes only 20 minutes or so of hard rain to compromise the suit. I was looking into a Klim Adventure Rally suit and will look into the First Gear upon your recommendation.

I've never even heard of brush on silicone sealer so that's a great piece of information! I'll have a look around at the local shoe repair shops. I didn't even know that they existed anymore given the disposable nature of most shoes. As far as gloves go, I've got a pair of heated gloves that I was going to try out. The liner in the First Gear gloves have been outfitted with some nichrome wire and it's connected to a regulator. I can't remember off the top of my head who makes it but I'm hoping that even if the gloves get wet, they'll still provide enough heat. It's on my list of things to test.

I already know from reading numerous posts on this site that tires are a favorite topic. I have no dirt riding experience so I'm going to get some kind of knobbies because I'm going to need all the help that I can get. I'm surprised that the front wears out before the back, though. That's opposite to what happens to my street tires. I still have quite a bit of life in my Tourances but if I'm going to ride knobbies, maybe it's worth swapping out now and riding a set to get a feel for them. You're so vulnerable on a new bike!

It's a pretty big fear of mine to have my heated gear burn out on a trip like this. I think I'll pack a shovel so I can dig my grave in the event of this scenario but to minimize this chance, I'll do the clean and lube job.

Thanks all for your comments and input. Recommendations from those who have been there and done that are invaluable pieces of information!
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Old 01-26-2012, 05:31 AM   #10
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Hey - The Silicon stuff is called Liquid Silicon by a company called Moneysworth & Best. Shoe repair shps have it.

http://moneysworth-best.com/products...quid-silicone/

Regarding tires; you are correct about the rear knobby going first. In 2006, my back TKC80 on my KTM 950 was toast at about 3500 miles, while my front lasted 6000 miles. A rear knobby is nice, but I learned in 2010 that a front knobby was enough if I had a decent dirt oriented rear that would last the distance. That way I only carry one extra tire. Also, there are a few shops up there that will change it for you, or you can even have them buy and hold the tire for your arrival.

As an example, in 2010 I used semi-knobby tires called Mefo Super Explorers. They went the distance (7300 miles), but the front was just TERRIBLE in the mud! Hence, my recco to you.

In the future I will use a Mefo rear with a TKC80 knobby on the front. I'll be able to ride safer in muddy sections with that combo. Trying to pick up a 500lb motorcycle in the mud is really hard to do unless you have help.

A lot of BMW riders use the Heidenau k60 scout tires. These are long lasting and similar to the Mefo I used. But I think you should have a real knobby on the front to be safest.

On the clothing; I'm not suggesting you buy more. You seem to have enough. I was just commenting on what I wear.

I didn't have heated gloves on my KTM, only heated grips. I use ski gloves in the rain because they are warmer and waterproof. I don't have experience with heated gloves.

Planning is half the fun for me. Along with comfort, it makes the trip a better experience. I look foward to your RR.
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Old 01-26-2012, 10:06 AM   #11
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I'll see if I can find the M-B Liquid Silicone out here in California. Is India Wharf in Boston? I'll be out there on a business trip in May or so. If I don't find the Liquid Silicone around here, I'll look for it there.

Heated gloves are pretty sweet as are heated socks! I think half the battle is keeping dry so I'm going to focus on that. You're right, planning is at least half the fun. To me, it's kind of like the difference between watching a movie and reading a book: my imagination can run wild in the planning stages and checking out the scenery on the trip is couch potato'ish especially on my RT.

Again, thanks for the recommendations and information!
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Old 01-26-2012, 11:08 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lifeofadv View Post
I'll see if I can find the M-B Liquid Silicone out here in California. Is India Wharf in Boston? I'll be out there on a business trip in May or so. If I don't find the Liquid Silicone around here, I'll look for it there.

Heated gloves are pretty sweet as are heated socks! I think half the battle is keeping dry so I'm going to focus on that. You're right, planning is at least half the fun. To me, it's kind of like the difference between watching a movie and reading a book: my imagination can run wild in the planning stages and checking out the scenery on the trip is couch potato'ish especially on my RT.

Again, thanks for the recommendations and information!
They have heated sox?!!!

Yeah I live in Boston. You should be able to find the silicon stuff there, though.

Good thread exchange. Now I have to try some of that special coffee...
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